Ann Oliva, in her latest SNAPS Weekly Focus discussed the leveraging of mainstream services funding.
We all know that ending homelessness is going to take more than what is available through HUD’s ESG and CoC Programs alone. We have been, as a homeless services provider community, collectively discussing for a long time how the use of mainstream resources – like mental health, substance abuse, health care and other benefits – can help both the people we serve and the system as a whole.
But something has shifted in this discussion. It now reaches beyond homeless service providers to the very programs and resources we have been working to engage in our mission. For the first time in my memory, we have intensive coordination and collaboration happening at the national level. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and our federal partners at VA, HHS, Education and others have worked tirelessly to create meaningful partnerships that we hope will be in place for years to come.
Now we need to figure out how to use that momentum to make the same conversations happen where we actually serve people experiencing homelessness – at the community level. And resources need to be part of that discussion.
There was a time when HUD awarded more funds for supportive services under the homeless assistance competition than on housing. By paying for services that should have been available to people experiencing homelessness through public systems, we were effectively reducing the potential stock of housing available to people experiencing homelessness. Tremendous progress has been made to shift this balance so that more of HUD’s funds are paying for housing costs than supportive services—however, close to 30 percent—or $460 million—of funds awarded through the competition are still for supportive services costs. While the CoC Program allows for the use of funds for services, HUD encourages CoCs to consider:
if the services being funded is also eligible under other mainstream Federal programs; and
whether they are essential to helping people connect to or maintain permanent housing.
USICH is working on a tool in coordination with HHS and other agencies that will make it easier for CoCs and homeless service providers to identify these resources. Individual projects should seek out these mainstream resources to pay for service costs currently charged to the CoC Program grant, which would free up CoC Program funds that could then be reallocated to create more units of housing. CoC leaders can help in this effort by ensuring that all recipients within the CoC are aware of other funding opportunities, and that programs already receiving funding from multiple sources maximize those resources.
Click here to read the full SNAPS Weekly Focus and view the list of mainstream services funding resources.